Last week, our survivors faced the most frightening human foes to date and Eugene finally revealed his knowledge of a potential, viable cure. “Strangers” picks up where the premiere left off, with the group desperate to leave the gruesome events of “No Sanctuary” far behind them, but some horrors you simply cannot outrun.
(!!!!!!!!Spoilers for current episode!!!!!!!!!!)
“Nowadays, people are just as dangerous as the dead.” – Gabriel
The first few scenes of focus on Carol’s reintegration into the group. Tyreese accepts what she did to his girlfriend, killing her to protect the “inmates,” so much so that he’s taken it upon himself to tell everyone else what she did. He’s not putting her through the stress of revealing her secret. Not only that, he’s telling them to accept it or move on from the group.
I think that had Carol not been the one to put Lizzie down in “The Grove” last season, Tyreese’s opinion of Carol would be very different. Whatever her sins against his loved ones, he is grateful that she took the murder of Lizzie onto herself. Tyreese isn’t Carol. He would never have survived the grief that comes with murdering a child, no matter how dangerous that child may have been.
He isn’t the only one declaring his allegiance to Carol. Rick tells her,
“I owe you everything. I sent you away to this and now we’re joining you. Will you have us?”
While I doubt Rick is abdicating his leadership role to Carol, he’s showing immense character growth here. We aren’t in a ricktatorship anymore. He’s lost his arrogance. Because of that, he is in a better place to work with people rather than lord over them.
As they flee all roads leading to Terminus, they hear the screams of Father Gabriel, who is trapped on a giant rock with walkers all around him. Unsurprisingly, he is not a seasoned warrior. He vomits the moment he is rescued. He is unarmed and despite his obvious religious affiliations, the group is wary of him. They have no reason to trust him. What better way to take advantage of desperate people than to pretend to be a man of God?
The three question rule stands. Gabriel answers “no” to the first two and then when asked why, he states “because the lord abhors violence.” He admits he is not above sin, but that is between him and God.
Gabriel leads them to his church. Rick and group scout it out first, checking for hidden enemies – of both the zombie and human variety. Carol discovers a journal that appears to be where Gabriel copied the entirety of the Bible by hand. (He has great penmanship if anyone is curious.)
Abraham does not want to stay at the church, not even for a few days. He wants to get Eugene to D.C. as soon as possible. But, everyone else is exhausted and needs this sanctuary.
Rick and Sasha drag Gabriel with them on a run, but not before Rick and Carl share words of wisdom with one another.
Rick reminds his son what everyone has learned throughout these five seasons:
“You are not safe. No matter what anyone says and no matter what you think. You are not safe. It only takes one second and it’s over. Never let your guard down.”
Carl does not disagree, but tells his father:
“We’re strong enough that we can still help people. We’re strong enough that we don’t have to be afraid and we don’t have to hide.”
Both men (yes, I think we can call Carl a man now) offer each other valuable advice. Living in this world is a delicate balance. You can’t lose your humanity, but you can’t ever blink.
Meanwhile, Daryl can see how haunted Carol is. He doesn’t know what happened to her in their time apart and she won’t tell him. She told him earlier in the episode that all she wanted to do was to forget. He does accept this, albeit reluctantly. Daryl, as he has always done, accepts every part of her, even the ghosts that she cannot outrun.
Speaking of being reluctant: I am going to reluctantly talk about the love-triangle that this show is dancing around. We’ve known for a while that Tara has a crush on Glenn. We know he’s friend-zoned her because he’s married to the marvelousness that is Maggie Greene. Yet, in this episode, not only is Tara making her usual eyes at Glenn, but there seems to be a spark from Glenn’s side, as well. I realize things like this happen in real life, but this is not a zombie show on The CW network. I don’t want to see this.
The group, as usual, encounters zombies while on the hunt for supplies. The store is flooded. In some places, there are several feet of standing water, which makes for an pretty awesome setting for a zombie fight. Rick, Sasha, Michonne, Bob and Daryl all hold their own, but Gabriel crumbles when he encounters the zombie version of a person he once knew. As they are getting ready to leave the store, a zombie, with mostly only rotting blueish-grey muscles as the only thing left on its bones, jumps out of the water and attacks Bob. He appears to get away unscathed, but there is something, and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, that makes you wonder if he’s not as unscathed as he says.
Upon their return with the supplies, Carl shows Rick an unsettling discovery. There are deep scratches around a window of the church, as if someone was hacking at it with a knife. Carved on the siding of the building are the words, “You’ll burn for this.”
Perhaps what the good Father is hiding is that he hid. He barred himself in his church and abandoned his friends, family and flock to save himself.
After dark, the group enjoys some peace, relaxation and food – that is until Abraham gives a tough-love pep-talk about the importance of heading to D.C. He speaks of the dead dying and the living reclaiming the world. There is also safety in Washington, a shelter built to withstand the apocalypse. Abraham tells them that they deserve more than to survive. There is tension in the air and you expect Rick to go one a ricktatorship rant, but of course, this isn’t a ricktatorship anymore. Judith makes the final decision. She coos and Rick says “if she’s in, I’m in.”
I am sure they are skeptical of there being a safe haven in D.C., but if there is is one, it would be in there. It would be naive of any of us to think that there aren’t dozens of nuclear fallout shelters underneath our nation’s capital. Whether or not these are also full of zombies is a different matter.
Later, Tara tells Maggie about her association with the Governor. It’s to her credit that she does this, because she doesn’t have to. Maggie forgives her and even embraces her. I am skeptical of Tara’s sincerity here. I don’t trust her around Glenn – to be more specific, as I said earlier, I’m terrified that the writers are going to throw a love triangle at us.
Rick confronts Gabriel about his secrets. He’s direct and forceful, yet understanding. Everyone has demons. He’s willing to let the priest keep his. However, Rick makes it very clear that if those secrets hurt anyone else in the group, Gabriel will breathe his last breath.
Outside the church, Daryl sees the car drive by that belongs to the people who stole Beth. He and Carol immediately take off after it.
Meanwhile, Bob sits outside of the church fondly staring at the building and the family to which he now belongs. His smile quickly turns to sobs as he wanders, distraught, through the woods. He does not wander long. He smacked over the head and kidnapped by Gareth and other Terminus cannibals.
Rick knew there were still Termites alive in the camp, but everyone else’s desire to run took precedence over his desire to wipe out every last one of them. In retrospect, Rick was right, but you also can’t blame everyone else for wanting to leave.
Gareth gives Bob a long speech about how they weren’t always like this. His speech is unlike the one Mary gave to Carol. There’s no pleading. There’s no cry for pity. Gareth is straight up psychopath. They hunt humans for food and now they hunt humans for revenge. Bob is now a victim of both. As the camera pans down the length of Bob’s body, we see that his leg has been amputated. The group munches on smoked army medic meat as the episode comes to a close. Bob is still alive and all we can hope is that he was injured in that zombie attack and he will die, rise up and then bite Gareth’s face right off.
Sadly, whatever resolution lies ahead for Bob’s character most certainly includes his death. “Strangers” does promise that the third episode will reveal the resolution to Beth’s kidnapping story and hopefully shed some light on our mysterious priest.
There’s a lot going on this season. If things continue to unfold at this pace, this might be one of the best seasons of the show yet. What do you think of the season so far? What’s your speculation on all of these loose ends?
Leave your thoughts in the comments and watch a sneak peek of next week’s episode below.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 on AMC.